Retriever Training

Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking, behavioral issues, puppy training, etc.

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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:51 am

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:When a dog sees a body of "dirty" water, there no picture. The dog just searches. A retriever test many times works on pictures or concepts and VERY precise casts. Very different.


Yes polar opposites in many ways. My background suggests a dog training on an area previously can be a crutch but the subject and style of the training would definitely factor into that.

All of my duck search training placed the dead birds in the cover in the water. Never on the bank. When I ran Spud on a mark which required him to cross water and get to the mark in the low mowed cover on land past the high cover along the water, he went into the low cover but missed the mark upwind and then immediately returned to the high cover and back into the water to search as he had been conditioned to do.

Those experiences is why I wondered about dogs having trained at that site previously. How we train conditions our dogs is what was on my mind.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Willie T » Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:10 am

Bruce Schwartz wrote:
Hunt test .jpg



So this is a test I went out on this past weekend. The test starts with you sitting on the bucket in mid-foreground with your dog at your side. The judges are in the chairs behind you. The first duck is launched left to right from a winger located at far left of image. It lands about 50 yards out across two water ditches. The next bird is launched right to left in the center of the image. It lands also across the second ditch with about 15 yards of land in between the two water ditches. The mark is about 60 yards out. Then the third bird is launched from right to left (see arrow in the far right of the image) and it falls across the ditch and is about 60 yards out. You can pick up the birds in any order.

When you’ve picked up the marks the dog is sent for a blind located on the far bank at 91 yards (see black asterisk). The judges said “keep the dog wet” - that means they want the dog to enter the water maybe 15 yards out and swim the water channel to the blind. If the dog hits shore on the left the dog goes out of sight and gets lost in the tall grasses in the peninsula and if the dog beaches on the right side the dog also goes out of sight and on down to another channel and gets lost. So, there’s no way to do this cleanly without swimming the 90 yards down the channel.

The test dog failed (the one that’s supposed to show all the handlers the mechanics of the test) and three of the next four dogs failed. Then there was some outstanding dog work. If the dogs beached the handlers were able to give them an “angled back” and get them back in the water. Mostly the pros did well on this and the amateurs not so much. Lots of hacking back and forth and whistle refusals, etc.

Gypsy (my PP) picked up the marks without a hitch (a lot of dogs had to be handled on at least one mark) but when I sent her for the blind she ran the bank on the right and refused to take an angled entry into the water - so… she got lost down the right side and went out of sight. She was gone for maybe a minute and the next thing she popped up in the field to the left of the blind at about 200 yards. Then she disappeared again and then popped up with the duck in her mouth! The gallery of folks watching thought it was a pretty remarkable stunt to get so far out of it and then come up with the bird! The judges weren’t impressed and we were DQ’d.

Overall, the “finished” level is above what my dog can do at this point. Maybe someday but not now. She needs a lot more angled water entry training and also discipline on taking whistle commands. I’ve hesitated to put much pressure on her for not stopping on the whistle because if I give her a steering command she’ll just stop instead of steer. And so I’m going to have to decide if I want to put her through the rigors of all this stuff. She knows the quickest way to the bird is definitely not by swimming 90 yards down a channel and doesn’t like ecollar pressure all that much.


Bruce, at the risk of sounding trite, "if you want to advance, you have to advance". Unlock the Puzzle. First double T's on land, then in a long narrow ditch. First run them squared up. Then progress to running them from angles. This particular blind illustrates the utility of teaching angled entries. First from heel, and progress to remote backs, overs, and angles. Although it at first appears daunting, with simplification your dog can master it without much pressure and simple attrition.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sat Jun 29, 2019 11:19 am

GH - the go-bird was the right mark so the dogs picked that one up first. Then they choose mostly the left one next if I remember correctly. I think the center bird was the problem mark because from where the line was the dog didn't know there was another body of water past the ground it saw in the foreground. Lots of handling on that one. What you say about the dog viewing stuff in pictures seems right: if the picture in front of him is like the picture he saw somewhere else in his training he'll have a default response. So it's why concepts are so important in training? I think the pro's dogs seemed to take the angled entries sooner than other dogs so there wasn't the need for "overs" or "angled backs". The farther out the dog was the harder it was to get him in the water. I guess I'm mixing up "angled backs" with "angled entries" , the former is a hand signal and the latter is a concept of entering the water. If the dog isn't trained to take an initial angled entry it'll take a hard over to get him in the water. Lots to figure out.

AG- the grounds were huge and not open to the public generally for training. I trained with a club on the duck search water a couple of weeks before the UT test and I think we all got 4's in the search. I felt like it was gaming the system but none of us complained. I think that must be pretty common in the NAVHDA world? These tests keep you and the dog training during the off season - stuff you might not be doing that if you didn't have some goals in mind. Plus the dogs love the work (if you keep it fun for them). Training for hunt tests is pretty low key competition - the world GH was involved in is no place for the timid (probably why he's so hard assed about this stuff. LOL)

Willie - you're right. I'm trying to break it all down in small chunks and rework some of the concepts I skipped. I didn't ever do a high level "swim-by" for instance and it's showing. And I'm working on angled entries starting first closer to the water and using marks to establish a line and then backing up and running them again as blinds to try to get a good picture for the dog. Only then go to other water. Maybe next year we'll be ready for this higher level stuff. Thanks.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sat Jun 29, 2019 1:58 pm

Most dogs unless trained in secondary selection will go outside-outside-middle. Probably 95% of the time. In this test, that method was correct. Had they taken the middle bird second, they'd have driven long on the third bird, switched, and had to handle. That middle bird was a concept called "hidden water" and a dog must drive it. Difficult for Derby dogs. Then you get some stupid, ignorant, a-hole of a judge that throws it short of the hidden water. The trained dogs drive the water and get lost. The untrained complete the test because they don't want to get wet.

What a test dog does is to show you the pitfalls of a test. Doesn't matter if he completes it or not.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sat Jun 29, 2019 2:34 pm

Whoa! I can see all that you said
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jun 30, 2019 7:00 am

Bruce Schwartz wrote:AG- the grounds were huge and not open to the public generally for training. I trained with a club on the duck search water a couple of weeks before the UT test and I think we all got 4's in the search. I felt like it was gaming the system but none of us complained. I think that must be pretty common in the NAVHDA world? These tests keep you and the dog training during the off season - stuff you might not be doing that if you didn't have some goals in mind. Plus the dogs love the work (if you keep it fun for them). Training for hunt tests is pretty low key competition - the world GH was involved in is no place for the timid (probably why he's so hard assed about this stuff. LOL)


Yes, My dog needs a job and summer is for training. I enjoy it. Training for and running in NAVHDA tests is beneficial and fun, but a one and done proposition. This gives us more work in an area that interests me and fits well with no free running during periods of nesting birds/fawns and summer heat.

The first Hunt Test I ran was over 40 years ago with my first GWP. It was an AKC Junior level held by the KC Retriever Club at James A Reed WMA. The gallery was mostly well heeled clients watching Pros working under DL's flag run their dogs. GWPs were not allowed to officially run but they let us run at the end of the day. The test was simple but my young dog ran it at top speed in both directions and the gallery clapped and cheered. It was fun then and is fun now.

I appreciate you all sharing your expertise/experience with me. I have much to learn and cannot get there fast enough. I need access to similar assistance locally. My training group is too far away to take advantage on an daily basis but we will travel 5 hours to an evening training session tomorrow. Excited to see how we do.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Doc E » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:19 am

Bruce Schwartz wrote: The farther out the dog was the harder it was to get him in the water. .


As distance increases, control erodes.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:22 am

It's cool that AG is taking the plunge. The benefits are huge: the dog gets to learn new stuff, AG gets to show died in the wool retriever folks that the pointing breeds are very talented and look good, and then there's the fact that while hunting plenty of situations will come up where the new found skills pay off. ( I wouldn't say traveling 5 hours to train is worth it though! 8) )
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:33 pm

I think that the problem is going to come in the fine tuning. Angle entries, channel blinds, blinds through marks are what cause the problems with versatile dog's. They hate the boring rote work required to learn these advanced skills.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:53 pm

GONEHUNTIN' wrote:I think that the problem is going to come in the fine tuning. Angle entries, channel blinds, blinds through marks are what cause the problems with versatile dog's. They hate the boring rote work required to learn these advanced skills.


For sure. Hence why I am going to set the bar much lower than the Retriever Specialists can attain. I really enjoy watching their dogs and will train to emulate it as much as I can but this dog has way too much experience succeeding using his feet and his nose for him to accept the level of control those upper levels of work require.

At this point I feel I need to get better as a trainer in this area before I can bring my dog up. Working on that.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:30 am

Worked a water mark this morning at an angle which invited cheating the bank. Sent the dog from right next to the water and the send went well but the mark was just off the far bank and he went for the bank, overrode my whistle and just ran faster when I hit the ecollar, cheating the bank on the return. Ran it again and he started to cheat on the send, I stopped him immediately and called him back, set him up again sitting at heel, and sent him again, he took the angle on the send and swam the same route back but that duck was thrown a little further out which has always been easier to turn him with the whistle and make him swim back.

What is a good drill to work on cheating the bank? Any video links you can post on the subject?
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sat Jul 06, 2019 4:16 pm

You decheat a dog by using swimby's or by running a de-cheat drill. What you NEVERTHELESS do I'd do it using marks and blinds. You have to R ember dogs are two sides; decheat on the left side and you'll also have to do the right.

It's kind of hard to describe the decheat drill. If you can't find it on YouTube, pm me your address and I'll send a diagram. I'm sure there must be a book with it in it but have no idea which one.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:13 pm

Thank You GH. I printed them off and will study them a bit as my next step.

Ran these two this morning. Setup the water crossing with what I would call mild temptation to run the bank around (to my right as I film) on the return. Sending from my left side beside the water made the risk on the send very low but he could have easily run the dam around to the right on the return (I had plenty of time/distance for a correction if he did, but none was needed ). Testing it with more temptation will be the telling but I think my correction a couple of days ago had a positive effect even though I did not get him back in the water on that one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqlaKAGpPoQ

Stretched it out some on this land mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmpkGWpl9Ic

Dog had good drive this morning and was ready to work. We walked in about 1/2 mile to that water and I let him rip it up hunting the cover like the bird dog that he is on the way in. After his hunting on the walk to the water, 2 water crossing to land marks and the one land mark, the dog was panting hard so we heeled our way back to the truck. The mental balance of letting him have some free run is very helpful and beneficial to this dog.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:19 pm

I probably did that drill for 5 years before I thought ot the pulley. I just used a single rope on the dog and I waded out in the water when I sent him. I'm thinking if you started this drill with Spud and forgot the marks, you'd be done in a week or less.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Retriever Training

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:22 pm

I will study it close and see what questions I have. Thank you.
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